Friday, April 30, 2010

Influency Salon and those sailor guys who fix ropes.

I wrote about Margaret Christakos' fantastic Influency course (for which I read my work and gave a presentation on Rachel Zolf; Allan Briesmaster gave a lecture on my work.) here. Margaret has now expanded the reach of this dialogue and reader/writer community/conversation-building course into a great online journal at The journal is designed extend the discussion and thoughtful consideration of Canadian writers.

One feature of the journal, entitled "Frames," features different writer's responses to different photographs by Ralph Kolewe. I was invited to contribute. I ended up creating a vispo version of the photo, writing a poem (The Marlinespike Chantey), and creating an audio work based on the poem. The whole shebang can be found here.

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Work Song

A 'Work Song' for BumpHEAD's performance at a labour-arts related evening.

I’ve been working on the golden yellow road
Trying to live long all day.

I’ve been toiling on the emerald green road
And time just passes away.

I’ve been hauling on the blood red road
Don’t you hear our bones rattling?

I’ve been bolting on the bruise blue road
Rise up & begin earning in the morning.

I’ve been assembling on the pale white road
Don’t you hear the shouting of ‘heroes’?

I’ve been dragging on the coal-black road
Someone came to the diner I know.

I’ve been struggling on the burnt purple road
Living large all day.

I’ve been haunting on the royal lavender road
Just past where I know.

I’ve been gasping on the empty chartreuse road
And I’d be happy to give it away.

I’ve been staggering on the dusty burgundy road
Wish Charlie Parker would blow his horn.

I’ve been watching on the wide whale road
Someone’s likely in the kitchen shucking corn.

I’ve been carrying on the lemon yellow road
Indivisible sometime before dawn.

I’ve been lurching on the dirty brown road
And time passes where once were locomotives.

‘Cause I've been working
All day.

I've been working
In time.

Don't you hear the whistle?
Don't you hear the captain?

For I’ve been working
All day.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The Umber Senescence of Grammar / The Impact and Burning Crater of the Semi Colon

Eddie was an explorer. He said the trick was to remain still, and let the discoveries come to you. He had discovered several continents, a cat, and our father, undressed, walking through the house, shaving. Discovery is an invisible labyrinth, he said. Eventually, everything finds its way into the open. Soon I will discover a new kind of moon and a way to step out of it, leaving my skin like a snake.

A romantic idea. The final autumn. Near the end of the world, the last leaf on the last tree. I am underneath its branches looking up. The last leaf falls into my open mouth. I think of you as I chew on its umber senescence.

A word processor that underlines conventional grammar. That marks up continuities and standardization. That prompts the writer with words that are not synonyms. That encourages divergent spelling. That capitalizes punctuation.

Monday, April 19, 2010

The Gophericity of Shadows

We mistake
what we think of
as shadows
for our shadows
for we are the shadows
of shadows,
more luminous and
dimensional than
their flickering
incorporeal presence.

So where then, are
our shadows,
the shadows which possess
a materiality and radiance beyond
the pallid evanescence of
our bodies?

There is no other

Our shadows are
inside us,
the vivid caves of
our awareness
rhizomatic gopher holes
each of our hopeful, burrowing
to the others,
gopherial or divergent,
and to the possibility
of tunneling,
and to the shadowy
great eye of
earth itself.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

weeimage: E G T Y O

The Italian visual poet marco giovenale invited me to join the collective vispo/image blog weeimage which is comprised of many very interesting concreators/writers. I don't plan to cross-post in the future, but since this is my first contribution, I'll post the image (which I created this morning and have entitled E G T Y O) here that I've contributed to weeimage here as well.

There's something interesting that happens with our eyes and brains when we see repeated or varied patterns. It must be a very old evolutionary adaptation. Rock Rock Rock Deer Rock Rock. Wait! Was that a deer? I don't think that the creatures with five eyestems found in the Burgess Shale would respond in quite this way to repeated images. Of course, from single celled organisms up to the trillion-celled concatenations that we are, we are all visual poetry in a way. Don't just read my lips. Read my cells. My DNA.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Feet, National Poetry Month, Haida Gwaii, and my brother

My poem, Feet, appears today on Angel House Press' National Poetry Month website. This piece was inspired by the various severed left feet, clad only in running shoes, that have turned up over the last couple of years on the B.C. coast. Amanda Earl has assembled a really interesting collection of poems for National Poetry Month from a wide range of poets and a broad spectrum of modes of poetry expression and exploration.

The visual poem, above, was inspired by the art of the Haida, the West Coast First Nation. My brother invited me to travel with him to Haika Gwaii (the Queen Carlotte Islands). I've very excited about the prospect of visiting this magical, beautiful place, not to mention spending time with my brother.

It occurs to me that, coincidentally, the images above are derived from an 'f' and an 'e', the severed first letters of the word 'feet.'

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Glyphosphere, maybe

And what about the notion of 'the glyphosphere', the entire rhizomatic ecosystem of marks? Or, perhaps, not rhizomatic: we could imagine a glyph, a textual entity, to be like an atom which doesn't connect to everything else in the universe, but may find itself over the countless ages, part of other structures from one end of the expanding, inhaling universe to the other.

(And, indeed, the textual universe is expanding, and it has been since the initial big bang of 'reading,' when a creature first had that mental flash that the sign could be intelligible.) In one age, the atom was part of Shakespeare. In another, part of a super nova inconceivably distant from Cymbeline.

Still, I imagine forces at work in the glyphosphere (whether strong, weak, gravitational, electromagnetic) across the endless dark matter of the framing page, where page or frame is what the dark of the sky is to stars. And what force is 'reading'? The distance between a glyph and its reception, a certain distance reckoned in 'meaning-years' for reading and sign are as connected in the way that time and space form the single fabric of spacetime.

Indeed, I imagine a 'readingglyph' continuum. A warping of sign, or of reading at certain speeds, or under certain conditions, or in the presence of certain other forces. In the glyphosphere, nothing can go faster than the speed of meaning. We can read anything.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Forciberhorzmun (for Kenneth Goldsmith)

A little piece inspired by Kenneth Goldsmith's post on the Harriet blog. The opening quotation is from that writing. I'm calling this cyber sound poetry or techno for cyber mouths and a dance floor of vowels since all the vocals are speechbots.

Here is the link in case your browser doesn't show the player.

Abovementioned northeasterly he'll writ art how i s; Abovementioned northeasterly he'll writ art who s i

there’s an atom in the world
that is everyone
or will be

there’s an everyone in the be
that world is
or atom

there’s a world in be is
that everyone will
or an atom the

an is be in or
the will atom that
there’s world everyone

aaa b d eeeeee
hhh iii lll m nnn oooo rrrr
ss ttttt v ww y ‘

Abovementioned northeasterly
he'll writ art
how i s

Abovementioned north
easterly he'll writ
art who s i

Thursday, April 08, 2010

James Tenney and the Theory of Everything: How multidimensional musical space can be a model for the multidimensional physical universe

The following is a scan of my article in Musicworks Magazine #99 (Winter 2007) Musicworks is a fantastic magazine out of Southern Ontario for 'curious ears' featuring 'explorations in sound.' Go buy a current issue. The magazine is fascinating, intelligent, and eclectic.

James Tenney was the brilliant and influential theorist and composer who taught for many years at York University. He was one of the 'big' theorists of music in the sense of rethinking the very fundamentals of music, of understanding the 'new physics' of music, the quantum universe of harmony. His far-reaching and insightful understanding of music was an inspiring influence on many in contemporary music, and I count myself one of the lucky people who had the opportunity to study with him.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Dan Waber and the inventhusiastiverse: "This is Visual Poetry"

Dan Waber of the ever inventive and enthusiastic Paper Kite Press, has created a fantastic series of colour chapbooks of visual poetry, entitled, rather obliquely "This is Visual Poetry." Each book has a colour image on the cover as well as 16 colour images inside. There is a picture of the author and a short bio on the back. It's unusual -- and a great opportunity -- to have colour images of visual poetry in chapbooks. It shows another side of visual poets' works as well as another non-online side of the work itself.

Dan is rapidly assembling a great series of chapbooks, from writers who are well known in the visual poetry world (for example, John M. Bennett, derek beaulieu, Peter Ciccariello, Marton Koppany) to others less known but no less great (for example, Stephen Nelson and Derya Vural.) The series is also international: Canada, the U.S., the U.K., Hungary, Russia, Italy, Turkey, and Finland so far. The other notable thing is that the series includes as many women as men.

Each chapbook is $10. A bargain really.

As his bio for the series says "Dan Waber is an idea factory who doesn’t have any clue what “writer’s block” could possibly be. He could use a writer’s cork, most days. He’s an editor, publisher, encourager, and passionate advocate for the life of meaning." Exactly. This is another great project from the ever expanding world of Dan Waber and Jennifer Hill and their publishing inventhusiastiverse.

My chapbook in the series was published today.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Stuart Ross reads from Cigarettes for the Dog

Stuart Ross reads one of the stories from his really fantastic collection Cigarettes from the Dog (Freehand). It's up for the Alberta Readers' Choice Award. You can vote for it (even if you're not from Alberta) here. Stuart is one of Canada's best writers. It'd be great if he won a shopping cart full of awards. Then he could buy his friends A-frame houses like Al Purdy's, a round of drinks for all of the people in Manitoba, and he'd send you Cheez Doodles. Right, Stu?

Sunday, April 04, 2010

On homophonoquasilexical translation

a visual translation of/for Bob Cobbing

I often use the homophonic translation technique -- creating texts based on the sounds of words in different languages. Sometimes, I use a hybrid technique, translating some of the words into their equivalent English, and then using the homophonic technique for the others. I usually am fairly loose with the result, modifying it as if it were just another draft poem of mine, playing with it until I'm happy with it as a poem. I, of course, lay no claim to its 'authenticity' as a translation. The end result may be wildly divergent from the original, or it may reflect something about the original's tone, structure, lexicon, subject, or something else more difficult to pin down.

Here are three stages in this process. The first is the original Heinrich Heine poem in German. The section is what I gleaned from an online translator. The third, my poem EVERTHELESS which will appear this fall in my Coach House Book, The Porcupinity of the Stars. The book includes a number of kinds of translation in it, mostly from German poets such as Rilke and Heine.


Original Heine Sonnet in German:

Ich lache ob den abgeschmackten Laffen,
Die mich anglotzen mit den Bocksgesichtern;
Ich lache ob den Füchsen, die so nüchtern
Und hämisch mich beschnüffeln und begaffen.

Ich lache ob den hochgelahrten Affen,
Die sich aufblähn zu stolzen Geistesrichtern;
Ich lache ob den feigen Bösewichtern,
Die mich bedrohn mit giftgetränkten Waffen.

Denn wenn des Glückes hübsche Siebensachen
Uns von des Schicksals Händen sind zerbrochen,
Und so zu unsern Füßen hingeschmissen;

Und wenn das Herz im Leibe ist zerrissen,
Zerrissen, und zerschnitten, und zerstochen -
Dann bleibt uns doch das schöne gelle Lachen.

Read through an online translator:

I laugh whether the abgeschmackten Laffen,
me anglotzen with the support faces.
I laugh whether the foxes, which begaffen so soberly
and haemisch me beschnueffeln
and I laugh myself
whether the hochgelahrten apes aufblaehn to proud spirit judges.
I laugh whether the cowardly Boesewichtern,
me bedrohn with poison-soaked weapons.
Because if luck pretty filter things us
are from the fate hands broken,
and so too unsern feet hingeschmissen,
and if the heart in the body is
torn up, tore up, cut, and zerstochen
then the beautiful gelle laughter remains for us nevertheless.

My final version:


I laugh whether or not the gobsmacked laugh—
me with the snorting face and short memory—
I laugh whether the foxes, which began so soberly
ended snuffling and begging
and I laugh myself
whether or not the blind beergarden apes were proud to be judges
or whether the cowardly midwinter boys made
me bedridden with poison-soaked weapons.
Because if luck filters pretty things
and fate gives us broken hands
to hinge and squeal and kiss
and if the heart in the body is
torn up, tore up, cut and restocked
still the beautiful laughter remains
dusky and firefly
left with the ashes

An old diagram which is a cross section of one moment of cerebral time and self assessment

For the anthology Surreal Estate published by Mercury Press about six years ago, the editor Stuart Ross asked the contributors to write a brief essay about their influences in relationship to surrealism. I created this diagram as my response. I don't know that a current detailing of my influences, or the way I conceive of my work would look anything like this. I think that my work, and more significantly, my approach to it, has changed vastly since then. Also, I conceive of my creative work as being a complex of interrelated strands, whether poetry, fiction, work for kids, music, visuals, nonfiction, teaching, parenthood, or opening the milk bag. Each of these strands, like a rope, is made out of other strands. I want to write more, here (and will) about the notion that there isn't one way to write, that writers don't have, or don't have to have, a single, unitary 'voice' (even if that voice is comprised of multiple disjunctions) or style. I don't have one type of child. Each of my three kids, while having some commonality, is very different. Why wouldn't I conceive of the various kinds of work I do as the same?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

Tiny Lions ( for Robert Dziekanski)

The RCMP apologized to the mother of Robert Dziekanski today according to CBC. I wrote and posted this little story shortly after his death was first reported, but I'm reposting it in light of the apology.


for Robert Dziekanski

A man flew across an ocean. He flapped hard. After one week, the man landed in our country. He had a tin can and a string connecting it to another tin can, but with all the flapping, the string had broken. Now he was in our airport with an empty can and his words were strange, understood by no one. The airport was waiting to punch him. The airport was a bully. It didn’t like his tin can and his broken string. “Don’t carry too much liquid,” the airport said. “Remember your tray table,” the airport said. “Take off your shoes,” the airport said. “Be one of us.”

Inside the airport was a door. The man put a chair in front of the door. Then the man put down another. He wanted to get out of the airport. It did not like him. It was a bully. He waited six months. Then he held up a stapler and a small table. He was waiting for tiny lions. Surely a country as beautiful as this must have tiny lions, he thought.

The police were not tiny lions. “We are going to shout things,” they said. “And you will understand,” they said. The police began shouting but the man did not understand. “Now we will shout again,” the police said. “We will shout louder so you will for sure understand. We are ordering you to understand. And just to be safe,” the police said, “we will lock your hands together. Don’t thank us. Don’t applaud. It is our job.” The man did not thank them or applaud. One should only clap when things are over, he thought.

The police were not his friends. The airport didn’t like him. Then they plugged him into the ground. A fistful of storm turning his bones to flesh, his flesh to bone. He fell to the floor. A man made squid. Then he died. This is what happened. This is my evidence. There were no tiny lions. I did not applaud.